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Re: Dual boot: Vista and RHEL4

Occasional Contributor

Dual boot: Vista and RHEL4

Hello, I've just purchased a HP dv9700z. It came with 3GB RAM, the AMD Turion 64bit 2.2GHz processor, 2 160GB hard drives, NVIDIA 256MB GeForce 8400M GS video card and Vista Home Premium 32bit on the primary drive ... I am trying to have a dual boot, so I installed RHEL4 onto the secondary drive, including GRUB into the /boot ... however, when I reboot, the system doesn't let me boot into Linux naturally, as the Windows MBR doesn't see it ... I don't want to load GRUB onto the primary disk and risk corrupting my MBR, and swapping out disks is cumbersome ... how can I get into Linux to get the boot info so that I can use Windows boot manager to boot into either Vista or Linux? Anyone have a guess? Thanks in advance.
Exalted Contributor

Re: Dual boot: Vista and RHEL4


The Vista boot manager is designed to defeat dual boots. It will not recognize a Linux boot. The Microsoft anti-trust case lives on.

You have to modify the MBR on the boot drive, in my opinion.

Other option is to boot with a Windows boot disk and use fdisk to make the secondary drive the primary boot drive. You'd probably need to create the boot cd with Vista to get something that can modify the boot drive.

Again you are touching the MBR, sorry.

I just got a new Dell at home. I have put in a 80 GB SATA drive as secondary, am almost certain it will work, but am concerned I'll trash the Vista partition the system shipped with.

Using Vista is a PITA, I can't find anything, and I use XP every day.

When I bite the bullet, I'm going to follow my plan.

Steven E Protter
Owner of ISN Corporation
Regular Advisor

Re: Dual boot: Vista and RHEL4

One other option is a USB flash drive or SD card if the platform supports it. If the flash drive isn't present it boots as normal.

I don't understand the fear of using GRUB, it's a great bootloader. It's a bit wonky to learn but worth the effort.

This may help.

On thing I would suggest, use dd to save off your mbr's if you're paranoid:
dd if=/dev/hda of=my_mbr.img bs=512 count=1
(note the use of the drive raw device)
This makes a copy of the first block of the drive - the MBR in the event of a really bad issue installing a bootloader you can just recover your MBR.

I know you didn't ask for opinion, but Vista sucks, period. Unless there's no XP drivers for your hardware you will have a much faster laptop if you "downgrade". About a billion people can't be wrong....

Good luck!
Honored Contributor

Re: Dual boot: Vista and RHEL4

Hi, fdlandry, don't be afraid about modify the MBR.

You may first create the rescue DVDs, then install Linux, if you have problems, you can restore your Vista and MBR from DVDs

Linux?. Yes, of course.
Honored Contributor

Re: Dual boot: Vista and RHEL4

The easiest way to do this is to install EasyBCD in Windows Vista and then add Linux as an extra entry on the boot menu.

I did get this working, however had problems when it was completely on the second disk. My solution is to use Vista disk shrink to create another 120Mb disk slice and put my "/boot" there.
Regular Advisor

Re: Dual boot: Vista and RHEL4

AC - I beg to differ. The easiest solution is to install GRUB (10 seconds of work after the boot). Adding a third party bootloader is hardly a best practice IMO...
Honored Contributor

Re: Dual boot: Vista and RHEL4

The problem with adding boot to the MBR is that Windows tries to overwrite it after every patch. I also found had problems getting Fedora to reliabley boot Vista. Which Distro are you using and could you post your grub boot line here please?
Occasional Contributor

Re: Dual boot: Vista and RHEL4

Thanks to all who have responded. Sorry this is so late. I was out of town on business last week.

I was able to get the dual boot established with some effort. I used 'The Ultimate Boot CD' (ULBCD) boot manager to get into RHEL. I downloaded the ISO and built a cd-rom to use. I had to navigate thru 3 or 4 menus to see Red Hat but was able to get in and get the boot sector info. I rebooted and found out that ULBCD corrupted my Vista MBR, but it recovered itself very nicely w/o the disk and I got into Vista and laid down the boot info on my C:\ root. Remember now, I have to actual hard drives: Vista on one and RHEL on the other.

Now, the instructions I was following told me to modify the boot.ini file, but I found out Vista doesn't have one. Microsoft did away with it in Vista and gave us BCD: Boot Configuration Data and it's editor bcdedit.exe, all command line driven.

However ... now comes the sweet part. NeoSmart Technologies ( ) have a sweet piece of software that is FREE for Vista that allows you to edit your Windows MBR to have a dual boot. It is slick and easy to use. I downloaded it, installed, configured my MBR all within five minutes at most, and now have a dual boot system with Vista on the main drive and Red Hat on the other. I highly recommend easybcd.

Thanks again to all who responded.


Honored Contributor

Re: Dual boot: Vista and RHEL4

EasyBCD is exactly what I suggested. its free and easy and as I said gets you over the problem of Vista overwriting Grub.

Glad you came to this solution too :)
Honored Contributor

Re: Dual boot: Vista and RHEL4


I forgot to ask. How did you get on with booting from the second disk. mine worked briefly, and then stopped after some upgrades even though I have rewritten the GRUB bootloader to the second disk. Its not really an issue as I have Suse on my first disk and boot through that, however I would still be interested in your solution.